Pre-departure: Weekend with Winnie

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We had a really productive weekend getting Winnie prepped for departure.  We had a long list of projects to finish, including a new graphic on the transom, installation of our wind vane, solar panel/dodger frame install, modifying the engine compartment to fit the new engine, and hours of organizing and packing.

One of the most exciting tasks we completed was the new graphic on the transom. Our friend Sheppa tediously designed the graphic, and it couldn’t have turned out better.  We will have to explain how our home port of Lake Lotawana, MO isn’t quite as landlocked as people assume, and how we made it to the ocean from the center of the United States.

Once our name was on the back, we were able to install one of our most critical pieces of equipment, the self-steering wind vane (not pictured).  Without using electricity, it mechanically adjusts our course based on the apparent wind direction and forward motion of the boat, keeping us sailing onward 24 hours a day. The wind vane will serve as our 4th crew able to steer the boat by itself, and keep us on course like a steady helmsman with minor sail trim and course adjustments by us.

We have a solar panel/dodger frame which Kyle has been working on for several months. It will serve as shade and wind protection over the main hatch and part of the cockpit, as well as provide all the electricity Winnie and crew will need. This past fall he researched solar panels by reading articles and speaking with people who produce, sell or install solar panels. Once he chose two 140 watt panels, he used their dimensions to design a dodger frame with the solar panels severing as the roof of the frame. He attempted to weld the aluminum himself, but ultimately had to take his sketch to a welding business to complete. Once the frame was finished to his specifications, he brought it home and continued modifying it until the panels sit snugly inside the frame and the posts are securely reinforced with mounting brackets in the deck. This weekend we brought the frame and panels to the boat, and mounted it onboard.  It should produce almost 16 amps of current while the sun is shining bright. This is enough electricity to keep our main two batteries charged, which will power our lights and charge our electronics with plenty to spare.

The main project we waited to complete was the new engine compartment. We waited until the new engine was in place to know the exact dimensions required to build it. Every inch counts on a 35 foot boat. The new engine is slightly longer than the old, and would not fit within the old compartment.  We extended our countertop and steps about 3″ forward to allow it to fit safely inside.  It didn’t seem to effect our interior space in the boat, and gave us better counter space!

We were worried we wouldn’t be able to fit everything inside, but it all packed away within Winnie’s compartments, and it feels spacious and comfortable. Dylan hung netting to hold our food stores and created more space by bungeeing the life suits in the bathroom. The curtains Kassie sewed were a nice finishing touch making the boat a home.

As we continue, packing, organizing and modifying Winnie to meet our needs, we grow more and more excited to move aboard. This week hardly feels frantic because we have spent time discussing, researching, planning, revising our plans, and now we are bringing it all together. We are getting a lot of positive vibes and feedback from all of our friends and family we are spending time with before we leave.

Thursday the boat will be dropped back into the water, and we will test run the new engine. If all goes well, we will depart Sunday, Februaray 1st!



  1. I’m so excited for you! I know you must be feeling totally overwhelmed, nervous, overjoyed, the list could go on forever! I can’t wait to hear about your adventures at sea!



  2. I am so excited for you all! I will be following your blog so keep posting whenever you can! Awesome seeing the pictures. Hope all goes well today so you can depart on Sunday. I love you, Kass!



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